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    How can e-commerce businesses deliver excellent customer service?

    “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”

    Jeff Bezos

    Not too long ago, if customers were seeking help from a company, they had to pick up the phone, wait on hold for an age, and then try to work out their issue with some scripted representative in another country.

    After years of irritating hold music, a little something called the internet was born, and along with it, came email. Email transformed customer service from being a clunky and time-consuming task to something much more streamlined and convenient.

    But then, social media came along and killed both the telephone and email in one go. By connecting individuals and businesses through instant messaging, social media is becoming the newest, most favoured platform for customer service.

    Stats show one in three social media users would rather have social media customer care services than telephone or email. It’s no surprise; using social media, you can connect with pretty much anyone in the world in real-time, no matter the device or distance.

    It’s for these reasons and more that customers are choosing social media platforms when they need help with an issue. Around sixty-seven percent of consumers are currently seeking resolutions for issues through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks.

    In this rapidly growing channel, eCommerce businesses, in particular, are turning challenges into success. Social media is perfect for eCommerce. Along with its instant feedback mechanisms, it also supports photos, videos, and other media.

    This makes it a potential gold mine for not only providing an epic customer service experience but spreading awareness of your brand. Users frequently interact with their favourite brands on social channels. Social is a familiar environment where consumers already spend much of their time talking and sharing content with friends.

    Here we’re going to explore in more depth a few of the main ways adding social media into your customer service ecosystem can benefit you as an ecommerce business.

    1. Real-time chat

    The ability to talk to customers at any time on social media means you can offer support throughout the entire product life-cycle: including before, during, and after a purchase.

    This can greatly reduce the time spent on routine inquiries such as general complaints, guidance, questions, and refunds. In doing so, it can also free up more time and resources for important issues that are directly related to retaining customers.

    The key to great social media customer service, no matter what the inquiry, comes down to meeting users’ expectation. When it comes down to it, customers expect almost immediate responses from businesses on social media.

    An ideal response time to aim for is less than an hour—which is the expectation of nearly half of consumers. If that’s not possible, you can post expected wait times or hours for when someone will be available for an immediate response.

    Often the only way to meet the expectations of customers is with a dedicated social customer service team and an effective social customer service strategy.

    This can be an investment, but it’s worth it to avoid the negative effects of slow replies—which include telling family and friends about their negative experience, buying less from you in the future, and complaining publicly via social media.

    2. Great way to win shares/links

    Users spend a lot of time on social media today. And the activities they engage in the most are liking, sharing, and commenting on content they love.

    If your brand has a social media customer service channel and a customer has a great experience with you, the figures show that seventy-one percent are likely to recommend your brand to others. Not only that, just as many are also likely to post something positive about your brand.

    All this activity is great for your social media presence. More likes and shares mean your brand and its content is more likely to be found by more people. In turn, social media customer service can win you more followers and more loyal purchasers of your product/service.

    3. Brand voice

    As mentioned above, social customer service is best when it’s handled with a dedicated social strategy and a social media support team.

    Social media presents many unique complexities that need to be managed to ensure everything goes smoothly. For instance, regulatory concerns about sharing private information, the preservation of brand image, and the tones and consistency of your brand’s voice.

    Creating your brand’s voice is about connecting with your audience in a way that’s human, conversational, and familiar, as well as unique and representative of your business’s values.

    The smoothie company Innocent is one of the best examples of an authentic brand voice on social media. Their creative campaigns and playful tone has built them an almost cult following that ensures their content is always loved and shared.

    Clear guidelines can help you create a consistent brand voice, as well as prevent any intentional or accidental bias in your teams’ responses that can lead to giving off a bad impression.

    4. Monitor your mentions

    As well as managing how your brand comes across on social media, a great social customer service strategy also monitors how people are talking about your brand.

    One way to do this for general queries is to use a tool for monitoring content that includes your brand name and a question mark. If there are a lot, having various streams can help you segment customer concerns so you can better prioritise urgent issues.

    You may also want to set up a stream for any mention of your brand that includes positive or negative words. This is a form of reputation management, and to pull it off effectively, your team must be trained in how to respond appropriately to both praise and criticism.

    Rule number one of social media customer service is to never get into an argument. Social media is about promoting a positive image of your brand, and so any comments or feedback should only be met with a response that’s in line with your strategy and voice guidelines.